Dominican Republic Day 3: Excursion Day of cigar/sugarcane/coffee/cocoa

Woke up later than 6:30 am alarm and rushed towards the tour that meets at 7:30 am. This full day excursion is Bayahibe Runners, to see the Dominican culture. We booked yesterday with the Amstar/cheapcaribbean. Cost: $85/person.

Breeze on our faces and hair blowing all over the place. Make sure to bring hair tie! It’s like a convertible but less comfortable. The open air vehicle provided the experience for seeing what is around is, and pictures are clearer than if it was through a window. Our butt hurt after a while towards the end of the tour though. 

Sugar cane plantation. Driver found us a sugarcane and cut into small pieces for each of us to try, along with this liquor made from sugar cane that was quite strong. Still strong even mixed with sprite. 

Haitians are hard working people who came here to cut sugar cane, as the condition in Haiti may not be as good with less work opportunities. It is not slavery as they are paid a wage, at least that’s what tour guide said. Using machine to cut sugar cane is not good as it cuts everything and bad for soil, so workers cuts them manually with a machete. Average person cuts 200 kg a day, and the record is as high as 6 tons a day. Housing is simple and small. Kids have schools to go to, but no tv or toys. Life is simple. As our safari bus stopped in front of a school, kids ran towards us and asked us for money. Someone gave them candy and they all reached their hands for a piece. 

Higuey Basilica Dominican Republic, dedicated to Our Lady of Altagracia. We waited outside until mass was finished to go inside. The lady sitting outside the door gave me a knee length skirt to wear over my shorts before entering. 

Fruits. Many types of tropical and fruits to try fresh. Bananas and plantains. Pineapple. Mangos everywhere. Passion fruit/chinola. 

Adventure Park, No 8 Quick Jump. Lunch was not yet ready when we arrived. Our guide took us a for a little adrenaline. It didn’t look too high but it felt high as I climbed up the stairs. Adrenaline rush as you prepare yourself to take the leap vertically straight down. A small second of free fall is when the stomach feels the gravity. Then the cable slow you down and you feel assured that everything is fine. 

Dominican Lunch. Seems like Runners Adventures own the place as we saw multiple excursion groups stopped here to eat the buffet self-serve lunch. 

Rice. Beans. Fried chicken. Chicken with gravy. Pasta. Cold sides. Sliced pineapple and coconut pieces. 

After a short ride, we arrived at what seemed like someone’s home, walking through their living room and kitchen, we arrive at their backyard. Tour guide pointed out leaves and trees: pineapple,  cinnamon, paprika, vanilla. 

Stations are set up where he showed us the basic steps of making cocoa powder. From the caocao, drying, roasting, grinding, rolling into ball, grating, and mixing with sugar and cinnamon. Tried some by licking it in my hands. Similar process for coffee.

A plate of fresh fruit was prepared: pineapple, mango, passion fruit, and watermelon. The pineapple here is the best from all the fruits I’ve eaten. Pineapple slices and pineapple juice, anything pineapple has been deliciously fresh and juicy. Various products they produced locally for tourists to buy: vanilla, cinnamon, spices. A bag of coco/coffee is $8-10. 

We headed to another location to see how cigars are made and did horse back riding. Cigars were expensive, a box of 2 cigars for $22. We got a box of 5 for $50. My Dominican Republican coworker told me that’s way overpriced. 

Mama Juana is a liquor that we tried, mixture of red wine, honey, and rum. Supposedly it’s known as “liquid viagra” for its sexual potency. Kind of taste like pork. 

The gift shop marketplace was not exactly cheap either. Prices are labeled in US $. 3 shot glasses for $10, or one tall shot glass for $7. That’s my souvenir thing to get everywhere I travel so I got shot glasses. I didn’t bother looking at other stuff, not many people shopping there. 

Finally got back! It’s been a full day 8 am to 4:30 pm, solid 8.5 hours. Time to relax before dinner. Best time is now for swimming, with the perfect sunset temperature and low direct heat. Grab drinks at pool bars before they close at 6 pm. 

Our dinner reservation at Takara, Asian restaurant on luxury side is for 6:30 pm. We were excited for this one although our expectations are set low. It’s good we didn’t expect much because the food was unbearably too salty! Not just for me, even for my parents who eat pretty salty food normally. The place wasn’t busy when we got there but it was a lot busier, and more packed than yesterday at Don Pablo’s. 

The food was so unsatisfying we didn’t even want to give the desserts a try. Instead we all wanted to go to buffet for a little something extra to be fully satisfied. 

Guilty about missing Michael Jackson show yesterday, we got to the “Dominica show” 15 minutes early to grab good seats. We waited and waited. Until people told us that it’s in the outdoor village area. We were late again…wrong location this time. Lots of dancing. Made us feel tired since it was ongoing nonstop dancing. 

Another day has passed. 


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